Gardeners prepare plants for May frost

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - This time of year, gardening centers are packed with people with a green thumb getting ready to plant their annual flowerbed.

That's usually a pretty familiar sight this time of year.

But what you don't usually see around this time are nursery employees spending a Sunday afternoon sheltering their plants from the cold.

"It's not unusual that we can see frost even into late, or mid-May, although we never welcome it," said Jeff Webeler, who owns White Oak Garden Center.

With some possible frost coming in Sunday night, employees at White Oak Garden Center aren't taking any chances.  But with the threat of frost, they say things are a little slower than they might normally be.

"It definitely slows people down.  They get anxious to plant.  It wasn't two weeks ago when we were in the 80s in shorts and things were really greening up, growing, and we thought, 'The gardening season's here.  It's ready to go," added Webeler.

If you've already planted some plants that are particularly vulnerable to frost, there are some precautions you can take, both good and bad.  Something you should not do when covering your plants is using plastic to do that.  There are a few good ideas, though.  Those are, using things like a box, or a paper bag, or even something made of cloth, like a blanket, to cover those plants and protect them.

"Cover it with cloth, or a paper bag or boxes.  Or, certainly, get up early in the morning and just hose it off.  Just sprinkle it off," Webeler told FOX19.

With 30+ years of gardening expertise, Webeler has seen frost this late his fair share of times.  So, when is it ideal to start planting your garden?

"For the most part, once we get past the 15th or Mother's Day, you can pretty much ward off other than maybe a light frost," said Webeler.

If you are covering your plants, things like tomato plants, peppers and impatiens are among the most vulnerable to frost.

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